Working in collaboration with photographer Mark Wright to present his ongoing project at Format International Photography Festival 2017 and to commission new writing by Gemma Padley and Simon Constantine in the form of a new exhibition and publication.
The work is made with the communities affected by fracking decisions in northern England. In his work Wright considers the experiences, lifestyles and habitats of the communities affected by policy decisions that will impact on the landscape and their way of life. Wright has spent time with these communities working on interviews and photography. Village, rural and agricultural communities are the most obviously affected by national government policies relating to the new gas drilling procedures by giant, global chemical companies.
Wright’s practice is based upon in-depth research, written material and absorbing himself in a landscape or community. In the new work fracking is clearly seen, not as a ‘local’ problem but one that gravitates around a central place and a collection of people. The environmental and social concerns are universal and relevant to all of us. In his work Wright makes the issues identifiable rather than literal or geographically specific.
For British photographer Murray Responding To A Landscape is a photographic odyssey, an epic series of landscape works made over four years, to be premiered in an exhibition at mac, Birmingham in 2017 and to be featured in a limited edition photo book. Working in collaboration with Murray to produce and manage this significant project has seen ambitious new works realised that will feature in an exhibition, publication and symposium.
The project exhibited for the first time works made on Saddleworth Moor. Respresenting pictorial landscape photography, showing both the vastness of landscape and the microscopic detail of vegetation and geology; works that focus on light and texture and pay homage to Dutch seventeenth century landscape painting as well as in some cases appearing biblical and in others apocalyptic and other worldly. This is a personal series of work, where there is no evidence of human intervention or presence but a relationship between photographer and landscape. The exhibition and accompanying photobook were launched in November 2017.
Alongside the project I curated a symposium that looked at photographer’s relationship and response to the landscape they photograph, with speakers including Jem Southam and Chrystel Lebas.
The artist duo Broomberg & Chanarin were invited to respond to a Grain commission at the Library of Birmingham. Over two years they encountered, researched and questioned the photography collections at the library. In the book ‘Spirit is a Bone’ they have made connections with the archive and their own work and concerns.
The book combines a new series of portraits made with a Russian camera which was made for face recognition and surveillance, ‘non collaborative portraits’, where human contact is not made, with a new critically engaged essay by Eyal Weizman and a response to images from the Sir Benjamin Stone archive.
In the book photographs open up the relationship between technology and ideology – theories of race, class and occupation. The photographs collected by Stone in the second half of the nineteenth century, in the Library of Birmingham archive, are visual evidence of his interest in history, science, nature and cultures. Like many, widespread in the Victorian period, Stone had a need to classify, know, collect, control and own. His album no 50 ‘Types and Races of Mankind’ includes what might be called non-consensual images, made for the scrutiny of others and to increase understanding.
The book and essay prompt questions about engaging with archives and access to them.
In collaboration with Jonathan Shaw and Coventry University, and developed as a research partnership Newfotoscapes is a multi-platform book.
The publication looks at how photography has never been a more dominant and embedded part of contemporary culture than it is now. Newfotoscapes seeks to navigate the evolving topography surrounding the image in the twenty-first century, offering a focused eye on the contemporary creative author-curator and image-maker and on the possibilities afforded by an increasingly complex professional landscape. Newfotoscapes is a series of curated texts by Jonathan Shaw arising from a series of in-depth conversations with 10 key stakeholders in, and influential commentators on, photography; including: Andy Adams, Charlotte Cotton, Dewi Lewis, Mishka Henner and Stephen Mayes. Perspectives and views cover a wide range of topics such as photo-books, archives, mobile, community, value, curation, appropriation, power, open education, connected/networked image, governance, licensing and the agency.
For more information go to http://newfotoscapes.org.
Artist David Bethell was awarded a residency at Wolverhampton Art Gallery during which he created a fictitious character and narative based upon their fine art and geology collections. Following the residency Bethell made new works, including sculpture, installation, photography, film and performance, in the Staffordshire landscape. The new work was curated for exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery during 2013.
The exhibition documents the adventures and explorations of fictitious character Dr. Bird, an eccentric adventurer, gardener, inventor and explorer. Bethell’s work is about land, landscape and our place within it. The exhibition is an artist’s response to the Victorian Fine Art and Geology Collections alongside ongoing concerns relating to human influences on the rural landscape.
The project also saw new writing commissioned from Anneka French and Anna Falcini. A publication by the artist accompanied the exhibition.